Florida Looks at Crackdown on Copper and Metal Thefts
Legislators in Florida have announced that they will attempt to crack down on surging secondary thefts of metal from residents and businesses across the state, according to Gigi Bouraad, reporting for the Florida Home Builders Association.
“This criminal trend is not only destructive, it is dangerous. I applaud our legislative leaders for their proactive stand against this issue,” said Attorney General Bill McCollum during a press conference with state Rep. Baxter Troutman (R-Winter Haven) and Sens. Victor Crist (R-Tampa) and Lee Constantine (R-Altamonte Springs).
“These criminals are creating increased costs to consumers, home owners and businesses at a time when Floridians cannot endure or afford the expensive repairs associated with these crimes,” said Troutman.
The legislation would require secondary metal dealers to keep records, including the name of the person from whom the goods were acquired, their address and workplace, their home and work phone numbers and a thumbprint.
In addition, Rep. Sandra Adams (R-Oviedo) and Sen. Charles Dean (R-Inverness) have drafted a related bill that would make thefts of metals from communication or utility providers a first-degree felony.
The legislative effort to stop the thefts is supported by the Florida Home Builders Association as part of a coalition of industry organizations that have formed Floridians for Copper and Metal Crime Prevention.
As a direct result of the increase in worldwide demand and rising prices of metals, says Bouraas, more and more criminals are stealing copper wiring from construction sites, digging up underground telecommunication wires, cutting utility wires and even stealing beer kegs.
Stolen copper and secondary metals can be sold quickly for cash to a scrap dealer, who will pay 85% to 90% of the market price.
The price of copper has increased from $1 per pound in 2005 to $3 to $4 per pound last year, and business losses from metal theft hover around $1 billion.